Words of Wisdom
Rule #1 - Let them miss you.
Students will miss you. Whether it is verbalized or not, your student will miss having you around to talk to or remind them of daily life activities. Try not to bring up the topic of missing home and family. If you bring up the idea of being homesick, your student might desire to come home more frequently and miss out on becoming an independent student. If students feel homesick, they sometimes feel like coming home is a cure, but many times it is better if they work through those moments by staying in Manhattan.
"My students came home at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, and Easter. I think it helped my students to stay in Manhattan most of the time to meet new people and get involved on campus." -Denise Claxton, Parent of Courtney, Class of 2017, and Haley, Class of 2015.
Rule #2 - Ask the right questions.
Students do enjoy having someone interested in their life still. Questions with some ulterior motives can make students put up their guard. Asking questions about what is going on around campus and the community to gain insight into their lives without prying will lead students to be more open later on, with what is happening in their lives.
"I had to learn how to just listen and not give advice sometimes, and learn when to give advice and not just listen." -Patrick Murphy, Parent of Kate, Class of 2014, and Austin, Class of 2013.
Rule #3 - Make your visits special.
Visiting campus is a great way for you to connect with your student on their turf. They like to show you where they hang out and even who they interact with. It is best to plan your visit so your student can manage their schedule of studying and activities around your visit. Many times students enjoy having a meal out with their parents or going to the store to get a few essential items that are needed. Make sure these visits are not happening so frequently that students are not able to create a social circle of their own or to partake in campus activities or study on weekends. Balancing will ensure great success for your student.
"We visit two or three times a year, usually for mom's and dad's weekends for her sorority. We have also attended a football game, volleyball game or just spent time seeing the sights around Manhattan: Manhattan Hill, Fort Riley, getting ice cream at Call Hall and bowling at the Union." -Wanda Sturgis, Parent of Kylie, Class of 2016.
Rule #4 - They will change, and so will you.
When students go off to college, they will start to change. Sometimes this occurs quickly after they arrive, or slowly over their time at school. This change is not traditionally drastic, but can sometimes be startling. A student, who might have had a few friends in high school, might gain a large social circle or the student who had no interest in a particular subject before could find it makes for a perfect major. Underneath this new exterior, they still will maintain many qualities and attributes you sent them to college with.
While your student is figuring out who he or she is as a person, you are learning as well how to be without your student. Expect yourself to change some, too. You will learn how to interact with your student in new ways while also maintaining the bond you previously had.
"We've seen Scott become a more effective leader, even though he had exceptional leadership skills when he started at K-State. He has become more assertive and more of a networker. He decides he wants to accomplish something and he figures out how to make it happen." -Kerri LaMunyon, Parent of Scott, Class of 2017.
Rule #5 - 90 percent-10 percent rule
A man named Harlan Cohen coined a philosophy called the "ten percent rule." He suggests that 90 percent of your student's days at school will be good ones; 10 percent will not be so good. When your student calls on one of the 10 percent days, they will unload their troubles on you to feel comforted. Many times your student will forget to call when good things happen, which leaves you feeling like their overall experience is unenjoyable. Remember 90 percent of the days are good ones, so be patient when there are bad ones. If you are concerned that there are more bad days than good ones, be sure to reach out to the Office of Student Life to see how they might help your student.
"I'm pretty sure that every parent of a college student has received phone calls that are specifically meant as a way for the student to vent! There so many things that can, and will, frustrate them: difficult roommate situations, unyielding professors, piles of homework. Those are the phone calls where you listen sympathetically, say 'uh-huh' every so often, and let your child get it all out of his or her system. I think that as long as the happy/fun/excited phone calls outnumber the sad/angry/frustrated phone calls, you know that your child is doing well. We occasionally receive calls that cover both ends of the spectrum at the same time :-)" -Debbie Marchesini, Parent of Matt, Class of 2012, and Mandy, Class of 2017.
Rule #6 - Trust that you have raised them to make difficult decisions.
Over the years, you have given your student many opportunities to make decisions on their own. When coming to college, they will still face these decisions but without the safety net of home. Trust your student to make decisions that are the best for them. During this time when students second-guess themselves much more than normal, they will need your support in their decision-making process. When they ask for advice, freely give them the knowledge you have gained. Remind them and yourself that they will make the best decision possible and learn from their mistakes. Students will have times of indecision but with support and encouragement, they will thrive in their college environment.
"Relax. Do not hound your kids. Trust them and their ability to make their own decisions. You'll be surprised and proud with the outcome!" -Kathy Khoury, Parent of Jacob, Class of 2019, Alex, Class of 2017, and Jessie, Class of 2013.
Rule #7 - Let them create their own college story.
Students have seen and heard about many college experiences. Whether this is from the movies, friends, relatives, or you, there are many perceptions of the college experience. The best way for students to gain success is to let them create their own college story. Many times students will want to repeat a family member's college experience. Remind them to take this time to make their own K-State story and use the other stories as advice on what college can offer them.
"Our daughter is following her own career path and majoring in public relations. It is exciting to hear about the experiences she has had so far and path she is paving for herself." -Jill Engle, Parent of Kaylee, Class of 2017.
Rule #8 - A full mailbox = A full heart.
For the first time, students have their own mailbox with their own key. At home, receiving mail was exciting yet familiar. In college, it is even more exciting to receive mail in a place they call their own. Snail mail is not the only way to keep a special relationship with your student. Email is a powerful way to drop a note to your student and know it will find them in the midst of their school day. These nice surprises show that you care, yet are not being overly intrusive. Remember, students most likely will not write back. Expect some correspondence to not have a reply.
"I sent care packages to my students on their birthdays, for Valentine's Day, Halloween and finals. I sent their favorite candy and snacks, a cute card, gift cards and money. I would also include anything from home that they needed or wanted. My students told me often that they loved getting packages in the mail. It really seemed to brighten their day, and I loved picking out special things for them." -Karen Sevart, Parent of Alex, Class of 2019, Rachel, Class of 2018, and Anna, Class of 2017.